Reading the Bible Like Watching TV?

The house will be quiet and then a loud hardy har har! That’s my wife laughing. She really does not say hardy har har! but I don’t know how to write her laugh.

Sometimes she will let out a little scream and have a rapid intake of breath.

It is big and it is joyful. I love it.

What is going on?

She is watching television.

One of Susan’s favorite things to do is watch tv and when I say watch, that is not an accurate description of what she does.

I tease her and say sometimes she crawls into the box [or flatscreen?] and lives with the characters.

She really “gets into” the story.

I don’t watch tv very well. Yesterday I wrote about distance and that’s what I do with tv. I put a little distance between me and the show that is on. I don’t have great interest in most of what is on television and I get bored very easily.

Susan puts herself in the story. She enjoys the show.

Dr. Willard says that is the way we should read the Bible. The Bible is the word of God written for us. It is God’s effort to communicate with us and we should do what we can to relate to it. We should put ourselves in the story.

Decrease distance.

Dr. Willard states “The experiences recorded there are basically the same type as ours would have been if we had been there.…Unless this comes home to us, the things that happened to the people in the Bible will remain unreal to us. We will not genuinely be able to believe the Bible or find its contents to be real, because it will have no experiential substance for us.”

What happens if we distance ourselves from the Bible?

It becomes a book of doctrine.

That’s ok but how many ordinary people consult a book of doctrine? About the same number of ordinary people who read books in a law library.

You get my point?

The basic problem with reading the Bible as a book of doctrine is the reader misses the “heart” of the Bible. Of course, the mind in engaged in the reading process but the heart is not. We need to feel something as we read about the characters of the Bible. We need to know that the people who lived on those pages are people just like us, with feelings just like us.

As Susan watches tv, that is how we should read.

It is a sad state that the Bible is not read more in church and outside church today. Christians talk about reading it. Maybe they want to read it but they don’t.

When they do, it seems to be so hard to understand that they get discouraged. Too often they don’t read it with joy. “We take it in regular doses, choking it down like medicine because someone told us it would be good for us—though we really do not find it so.” [Willard, 36].

As Dr. Willard says, we all have “God-given imaginations” yet we do not use those as we read the Bible. Some stand in awe of the “Good Book”, some just can’t generate any interest whatsoever, and some just have such a negative attitude toward reading the Bible, that a good understanding will never happen.

The characters in the Bible were human beings just like we are so why can’t we relate to them? For that matter, Jesus was a human being along with being Divine. He felt all the feelings that we feel today. Yet we don’t put forth the effort to understand.

Maybe effort is the wrong word.

Susan is watching tv downstairs at this very moment, very intent on following the story in the show, very intent on feeling what the characters are feeling, very intent on reacting to the action as it unfolds on the screen.

She is not expending effort; she is enjoying the show.

Dr. Willard states, the characters of the Bible should be real to us and “We must pray for the faith and for the experiences that would enable us to believe that such things could happen to us.”

When that pray is answered, the meaning of this precious effort to communicate will be unlocked.

We will read the Bible like Susan watches tv.

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